|"He’s a stranger here, your majesty... he couldn’t possibly know."|
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Dr. Cornelius was the mentor, advisor and teacher of the young prince Caspian X.
As a person of half-dwarfish, half-human blood posing as a human, he was one of the few people in the Telmarine-ruled society of Narnia under King Miraz that knew of the history of the Old Narnians, and introduced Caspian to them.
Cornelius was probably born sometime around the 2240's, and was the son of a Telmarine man and a female Black Dwarf in the movie. In the original book, he was still a half-dwarf but it was not made clear about his lineage. His childhood is unknown, as is the story of how his parents met, but he received a noble education, becoming proficient in many fields of study.
While he was young, he set out on a quest for the fabled Horn of Queen Susan. It is around this time that he probably took up his study of magic, a skill that would serve him well during the many dangers of his later adventures. Several times during his search he glimpsed evidence of the existence of Old Narnia, but each time it evaded him. After many dangers, he found the magical horn and kept it secretly in his own possession.
At some point he entered the Telmarine royal court, and joined the company of the Queen, the wife of King Caspian IX. She was kind to him, and he seemed fond of her. It is also unknown when he became a professor, gaining the title of Doctor, but it is possible both took place around this time.
In the 2290's, after the death of King Caspian IX, he was chosen to serve as private tutor to the young Prince Caspian X. The two became very close, as the Doctor gained the prince's respect, and taught him many subjects, including mathematics, grammar, history, politics, and astronomy. Despite their closeness, Cornelius waited some time to reveal to the prince the true political nature of his uncle's realm. After some time, he subtly dropped hints of the existence of Old Narnia. When the young prince responded positively, Cornelius arranged for a private astronomy lesson between the two.
The lesson involved the conjunction of the planets of Tarva and Alambil, an event Cornelius knew to be of fortuitous significance for the realm of Narnia. During the lesson, he revealed his true dwarvish ancestry to the young prince, and confirmed the prince's belief in Old Narnia. That night cemented a lifelong friendship, and in many secret lessons following, Cornelius imparted much of his forbidden knowledge of Old Narnia to Caspian, who eagerly took in the studies, never telling anyone of their lessons. During this time, Cornelius also advised Caspian to be a better king than his ancestors, and to be fair to all peoples.
The era was brought to an abrupt end with the start of the Narnian Revolution. In 2303, Lady Prunaprismia, the wife of the former "Lord Protector" (now king), Caspian's uncle Miraz, gave birth to a son and heir. On the night of the birth, Cornelius crept into Caspian's room, setting a charmed sleep on the prince's gentlemen-in-waiting. Rousing the prince, he brought him again to the secret tower, and told him the truth of his father's murder and his rightful place as king. He begged Caspian to flee for his life, giving to him his most precious gift, the horn of Queen Susan.
After the escape, Cornelius came under suspicion. When the prince's horse returned to the castle, riderless, a few days later, Cornelius too gathered his possessions and fled for his life. Using his crystal ball, he was able to locate the Prince, now joined by an army of Old Narnians. He warned them of Miraz's oncoming army, and fled with them to the magical hill of Aslan's How. There he remained with them throughout the following battles. His knowledge of medicine and magic were likely very valuable, though it is doubtful he ever fought.
After several crushing defeats, he advised Prince Caspian to blow the magic horn, and summon magical help. When no help appeared a few days later, he expressed disappointment, but seemed shocked at the idea from some of the Narnians that they summon back darker powers, such as the White Witch. When Caspian, Cornelius, and Trufflehunter the badger came under attack by several disloyal Narnians, Cornelius was rescued by the appearance of his fellow dwarf Trumpkin, who brought with him the Kings and Queens of Old, indeed summoned by the magic horn.
Cornelius stood with King Edmund and Prince Caspian later that day, during the duel between King Miraz and the High King Peter. He also witnessed the following battle, the waking of the trees, and the return of Aslan, signaling the end of the war.
After Caspian's ascension to the throne, he made Cornelius his Lord Chancellor. As Cornelius was old at the time of the War of Deliverance, he likely died shortly after the return and marriage of King Caspian.
Cornelius is a half-dwarf, and thus shares many of the traits of his people, being both short and fat, though not quite as short as a dwarf. He has a long gray beard and twinkling eyes.
Cornelius is very perseverant and deeply loyal, remain true to his hidden heritage and his the rightful king even in times of danger to his own life.
He is also both wise and intelligent, serving as tutor, advisor, and surrogate father figure to the young prince Caspian. He is described as the kind of person it is impossible not to like, suggesting that he is jovial, cordial, and friendly, making many fast friends, such as Reepicheep.
His exemplary education, does not make him snobbish, as he listens to all, even those who disdain him, such as Nikabrik.
- Prince Caspian (book; appearance)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (book; mentioned)
- Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989 BBC; appearance)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008 film; appearance)
- In the BBC versions, he is played by Henry Woolfe.
- In the Disney/Walden version, he was played by Vincent Grass.